Why Bother with C.S. Lewis?
- Sunday, November 21, 2010
But one of my reasons for teaching Lewis is also highly personal: he encourages me. One example: during a difficult season of my life (one filled with both personal and academic challenges to my faith) I entered a used book store and found a daily reader filled with bits of C. S. Lewis articles. To my surprise, delight, and eventual relief, those daily Lewis readings lined up with many of the battles I faced. Reading Lewis helped me through a difficult season of life, convincing me that despite the intellectual and personal chaos surrounding me, Christianity not only made sense, but it was the best option available. For that, I feel a personal debt of gratitude.
Though Lewis is not particularly difficult reading, his style is unlike that which most high school students have read. Thus they find themselves wrestling with his arguments in Mere Christianity, and confused by the initial ethical inversion of Screwtape Letters. My response to them: like Jacob, sometimes we must wrestle before we can be blessed. Lewis is worth the struggle.
In his book An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis explained that reading widely offers us two major benefits: (1) the opportunity to experience places we've never experienced before, and (2) the opportunity to think thoughts we've never before considered. I encourage my students to read Lewis because he is an adventure into new dimensions (like Narnia), onto other planets (as in The Space Trilogy), and into whole new ways of interpreting life here on earth (like one of his famous illustrations from Mere Christianity - that a striptease act is equivalent to slowly removing the cover from a plate of food, and then suddenly turning out the lights).
Please, don't just go see the latest Narnia movie and miss the real adventure. Read Lewis.
Stanley J. Ward serves as the Biblical Worldview Director at The Brook Hill School (www.brookhill.org) and frequently speaks at conferences (www.stanleyjward.com). He is also a PhD candidate and napkin theologian (www.napkinvideo.com).
Publication date: November 21, 2010
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